A Comforting and Substantial Improvement

January 4, 2018

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

Well we're all being annihilated by the "Bomb Cyclone" aka "Bombogenesis" aka "Best Phil Collins Cover Band Name Ever" and I have the worst headache of my life, so this Heresy will be, much like life, nasty, brutish, and short. 

There is no alien megastructure around Tabby's Star. Much like life, it's just dust. 

At Religion & Politics, theologian Charles Marsh wrestles with the evangelical obsession with guns and the sudden "call to an armed laity" made by pastors and the NRA. 

Relatedly, historian Timothy Gloege at Religion Dispatches arches an eyebrow at "respectable evangelicals" who distance themselves from Roy Moore or Trump's worst excesses:

Few conservative white evangelicals will question their overheated rhetoric about healthcare and wedding cakes and “religious liberty.” Few liberal white evangelicals will question how their cherished theological categories might contribute to the systemic racism and patriarchy they claim to oppose. Moore supporters will not consider whether there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed.

Because being evangelical means never having to say you’re sorry.

Being evangelical means “it’s not us.” 

Thomas S. Monson, president of the LDS church and of course also a prophet, just died, and while there's a lot of mourning going on about it, it's important to remember that he led the charge that defeated California's gay marriage ballot measure in 2008. Of course Trump thinks he was great, exhibiting "great compassion," assuming he knew who he was before, like, yesterday.

Beth Mole at Ars Technica investigates that height of pseudoscientific fad absurdity, "raw water":

Natural water sources are vulnerable to all manner of natural pathogens. These include any bacteria, viruses, and parasites normally found in water or shed from nearby flora and fauna, such as Legionella and Giardia lamblia. They also can easily pick up environmental contaminants and naturally occurring hazards such as radiation from certain mineral deposits. 

Pat Robertson, who is for some reason still alive, says God is too busy to allow a nuclear war between the U.S. and North Korea, which totally makes sense when you don't think about it.

Exercise won't help you lose weight all that much. Sorry.

Physicist Marcelo Gleiser waxes on the heightened interest in UFOs since we all found out the military was checking them out:

The fact is that, up to now, we have no convincing evidence whatsoever that ETs have been here, piloting their superadvanced spacecraft. ... This rational argument doesn't take away from the fascination we all have with UFOs. We must keep looking and taking reports seriously. After all — if we don't look, we won't find.  

Anther physicist, Don Lincoln, explains at CNN.com the basics as to the odds of alien life existing. You could also just listen to my Point of Inquiry interview with Lee Billings, which was really good I thought.

Here's how to take photos of UFOs. Good luck with that. 

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, did a 10-day silent Vipassana retreat, and Melia Robinson at Business Insider explains what it is: 

Participants abide by a set of rules: no sex, drugs, lying, stealing, religious worship, reading, writing, or physical contact. Communication is strictly prohibited, whether by speech, gestures, or notes. 

Sounds like my life.

Quote of the Day:

Rex Huppke at the Chicago Tribune heralds what might be the most successful first year of a presidency in history, thanks to Donald Trump's efforts to keep us safe from one very important threat:

The total number of verified Bigfoot-related deaths in 2017 fell to zero, a comforting and substantial improvement over the less-impressive zero Bigfoot-related deaths that occurred during all other American presidents’ first years. 

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